Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Jan. 3, 2014, 1:20pm

Madison County Circuit Judge William Mudge continued a motion hearing regarding defendant ConAgra’s motion to transfer venue, giving the parties more time to respond in a lawsuit claiming Peter Pan peanut butter was contaminated.

Mudge gave the parties 60 days to complete discovery for the motion to transfer forum non conveniens on Dec. 20. He also ordered the plaintiffs to answer ConAgra’s outstanding discovery request within 45 days

He set a motion hearing for March 28 at 9 a.m.

ConAgra filed its forum non conveniens transfer motion on Sept. 25 claiming Madison County is the wrong venue as it is both improper and inconvenient.

“The [forum non conveniences] doctrine assumes there is more than one forum for a case and permits a court, although I may have proper jurisdiction to decline that jurisdiction ‘if it appears that another forum can better serve the convenience of the parties and the ends of justice,’” the motion states.

ConAgra argues that Madison County is already congested with cases and it is unfair to impose jury duty upon residents with no connection to the litigation. It also claims there is no connection to Madison County as the parties are not located in Madison County and the alleged incident did not occur in Madison County.

“As both private and public factors weigh against venue remaining in Madison County, this court should transfer this case to the venue of the location of the injuries and claims, Pike County,” the motion states.

According to the complaint filed in may, Lonnie and Penny Hill claim their daughter, Cara, became ill after eating the peanut butter they purchased from Country Market in November 2006.

The Hills claim the peanut butter was contaminated with salmonella, causing their daughter’s illness and a permanent condition called ankylosing spoondylitis, a form of arthritis affecting the spine.

ConAgra is blamed for manufacturing the peanut butter. Niemann Foods Inc. is also named a defendant for selling the contaminated product.

The plaintiffs seek a judgment of more than $50,000.

Mudge scheduled a case management conference for Feb. 26.

Michael P. Glisson of Williamson, Webster, Falb & Glisson in Alton represents the plaintiffs.

Theodore J. MacDonald Jr. Michael L. Young and Katherine E. Jacobi of HeplerBroom LLC in St. Louis and R. Trent Taylor of McGuire Woods LLP in Richmond, VA, represent ConAgra.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-772

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